Transportation Research Group
Tapan K. Datta, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Peter T. Savolainen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Timothy Gates, Ph.D., P.E.
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Current Research Projects
Utility Work Zone Traffic Control Guidelines and Training Programs
The Utility Work Zone Traffic Control Guidelines and Training Programs is funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as a part of their Work Zone Safety Grants. A State-of-the-Art and State-of-the-Practice Survey and Gap Study and Needs Assessment were part of the deliverables of this project. From the information collected, utility work zone traffic control guidelines were developed in order to assist transportation agencies, utility companies and contractors in achieving reductions in utility work zone injuries and fatalities and compliance to the ‘Work Zone Safety and Mobility Rule’. Two pilot training sessions and four train-the-trainer sessions are being held nationwide. The training programs will include topics such as the proper temporary traffic control devices and plans based on the developed guidelines, the importance of safety in utility work zones, and how to generate a safety culture amongst utility workers. More information about the training programs can be found at: http://www.uwztraining.eng.wayne.edu/.
Evaluation of Pedestrian Safety in the City of Detroit
This study is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). A crash analysis was performed in the City of Detroit to determine the high pedestrian crash locations. As a part of this study, 14 intersection locations and one corridor location were analyzed. Geometric data was collected at each location along with pedestrian and driver violation data. The pedestrian violations included pedestrians starting to walk during the Flashing/Solid Do Not Walk phase, pedestrians running across the street, and pedestrians crossing away from the crosswalk (jaywalking). The vehicular violations included drivers suddenly stopping for pedestrians and drivers racing around or failing to yield to pedestrians. Engineering countermeasure recommendations will be provided to MDOT to improve the safety of pedestrians at these locations. General engineering countermeasures will also be provided to improve pedestrian safety at other locations within the City of Detroit.
Education and Enforcement in Focus State and Focus City Pedestrian Safety Efforts: Detroit, MI
This grant is sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The project focused on developing educational and enforcement programs to improve pedestrian safety in Detroit. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Detroit is one of the top five cities in the United States with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities per year. Educational and enforcement programs will be implemented and evaluated at select locations within the City of Detroit. The overall project will provide a transferable pedestrian safety model that can be implemented in other cities throughout the United States.
2006, 2007, and 2008 Annual Direct Observation Survey of Safety Belt Use
The Annual Direct Observation Survey of Safety Belt Use is sponsored by OHSP and has been completed by the Wayne State University – Transportation Research Group since 2006. During this project, observational surveys of safety belt use for passenger vehicles are conducted across the State of Michigan. There are 192 intersection and interchange locations that are observed near Labor Day weekend. All drivers and front-seat passengers are observed for safety belt use and categorized by vehicle type, vehicle use, gender, age and race. Once the surveys are completed, a relevant statistical analysis is conducted to determine changes in safety belt use. The safety belt use rates are compared with the previous years’ rates and help to determine the effectiveness of enforcement and education programs.
Evaluation of the 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 May Click It or Ticket Mobilization
The Click It or Ticket evaluation is sponsored by OHSP. The Wayne State University – Transportation Research Group has been involved in this evaluation since 2005. Observation surveys at are performed in 48 counties across the State of Michigan and includes 192 sites for the statewide sample and 90 sites for the rural over-sample (2005 and 2006 projects only). The observations are recorded in a spreadsheet and analyzed according to overall safety belt use by stratum, day of the week, time of day, and driver characteristics. A "before" and "after" observational survey is conducted to measure the effectiveness of the Click It of Ticket enforcement campaign.
Traffic and Safety Engineering Services to MPOs
Metropolitain Planning Organization (MPOs) traffic engineering and safety studies are sponsored by the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP). The first study began in 2004. The studies include evaluating 30 to 40 high crash intersections in each MPO. Field data including condition diagrams (within 150 feet of each approach leg), volume counts, existing signal timing plans, and collision diagrams (collected from Michigan State Police crash database) are collected for each intersection. Speed data is also collected in between intersections and during off-peak periods. The collected data is analyzed and mprovements to each intersection are recommended in order to improve the safety and operations of each intersection. Recommendations are provided to OHSP for them to follow through with their discretion. The following is a list of the current and past MPOs that have been studied.
- Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (Lansing Area) – FY 2008
- Jackson Area Transportation Study – FY 2008
- West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (Muskegon Area) – FY 2007
- Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study – FY 2007
- Saginaw County Metropolitan Planning Commission – FY 2006
- Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission – FY 2006
- Battle Creek Area Transportation Study – FY 2005
- Southwestern Michigan Commission – FY 2005
- Grand Valley Metropolitan Council – FY 2005
- Bay City Area Transportation Study – FY 2004
Past Research Projects (Selected List)
Dynamic Late Lane Merge System
The Dynamic Late Lane Merge System (DLLMS) study was sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation and was completed in 2007. In normal work zones with lane closures, drivers do not merge at any one definite point, thus often causing a sudden interruption in traffic flow and sometimes higher delay and longer queue. The Dynamic Late Lane Merge System (DLLMS) is used to specify a definite merge point, improve the flow of congested work zones, and reduce queue lengths in travel lanes. The DLLMS was implemented on three freeway segments in the State of Michigan that were reduced from two lanes to one lane, due to highway construction work zones. The DLLMS directed traffic to use both lanes (open and closed lanes) until the designated “merge point” (close to the taper) where traffic from each lane was instructed to take turns merging into the open lane. Based on travel time characteristics, merge locations, and throughput, the effectiveness of the DLLMS was evaluated as a part of this study. The before period data was not available; therefore, a conventional work zone merge system, located on eastbound I-94, was used as a control site for the westbound I-94 test site. The comparison of the I-94 control and test sites indicated that the presence of the DLLMS improved the flow of travel and increased the percentage of vehicles that merged at or near the designated taper location. Based on the expected travel time savings, at a $5.00/hour value of time, the benefit to cost ratio will be greater than one, indicating that the monetary benefits of the DLLMS outweigh the cost of the system.
Identification of Targeted Enforcement Locations for the Reduction of Speed-Related Crashes
This study was sponsored by the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) and was conducted in order to identify locations for targeted enforcement for the reduction of speed-related crashes at three selected counties in Michigan. The first task of the study was to perform a countywide crash analysis in order to identify candidate counties for targeted enforcement. Twelve counties were selected and recommended to OHSP that included six rural counties and six urban counties. Out of 12 candidate counties, OHSP selected Alger County, Clinton County and Ottawa County for further detailed traffic crash analysis. A traffic crash analysis was performed for these three counties and the 20 highest speed-related crash locations were identified. A more detailed traffic crash and site characteristic analysis was performed for the top 20 locations in each of these three counties. From this analysis, 12+ locations in each county were recommended to OHSP for targeted police enforcement. Some engineering and educational countermeasures were also recommended for the locations identified.
Susan Harwood Training Grant – OSHA Training Material Development for Highway Construction Work Zones and Traffic Control Hazards
As a part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Training Material Development program, the Wayne State University - Transportation Research Group (WSU-TRG) was awarded the Susan Harwood Training Grant to develop, evaluate and validate “classroom quality” training materials to address Construction Zone Hazards, specifically related to Highway Construction Work Zone and Traffic Control. Training materials were developed to supplement materials that are currently available from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other state and federal government and private agencies. The training program developed is targeted to highway and street construction workers, site supervisors, project managers and construction company officials. The training program is meant to increase safety awareness to make construction workers less vulnerable and less susceptible to severe injuries or death, increase awareness of safety hazards related to traffic control and work zone layouts and how to identify and mitigate them, and provide procedures that increase the skills of construction workers in preventing injuries. The training materials developed can be found at: http://webpages.eng.wayne.edu/osha/.
2005 and 2007 Child Restraint Device Use and Misuse Survey
The Child Restraint Device Use and Misuse Survey was sponsored by the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) and was conducted by the Wayne State University – Transportation Research Group in 2005 and 2007. There were two portions of this study including an observational survey and an interview/inspection survey. The observational portion consisted of observing vehicles with children under the age of four as they drove through an intersection. The interview/inspection portion consisted of conducting interviews/inspections at fast-food restaurants, day care centers, shopping areas, and recreational locations. The overall objective of this study was to track the changes in child restraint use and misuse that have occurred since the previous observational studies. This survey provides valuable information regarding the changes in child restraint use in relation to various demographic groups throughout the State of Michigan. In addition, understanding the degree or severity of CRD misuse assists agencies in identifying educational efforts that can be created to reduce severe misuse of CRDs.
Motorcycle Helmet Use Observation Survey
The motorcycle helmet use observation survey was sponsored by the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) and completed in 2006. The State of Michigan requires that all motorcycle riders wear a helmet. Between the years 1994 and 2003, the total number of crashes increased overall. Two observational surveys were conducted for this study. The first survey was concurrent with the 2006 Click It or Ticket safety belt observational survey conducted between April and June and included 192 observational sites. Due to the low number of motorcycle observations, a second survey was conducted which focused upon targeted locations which motorcycle had a high probability of occurrence, such as restaurants, major downtown centers and motorcycle facilities. For the targeted survey, 50 additional sites were selected for observation. All motorcycles riders and passengers were observed for protective gear use and categorized by motorcycle type, gender, age and race. The observational survey found that 99.4 percent of motorcycle riders utilize helmets, although 44.2 percent of these riders utilized half-shell helmets. In addition, the majority of the motorcycle riders were improperly protected with 74.5 percent wearing short-sleeved tops, 12 percent wearing shorts, and nearly 3 percent wearing open-toed shoes. Sixty-eight (68) percent of the riders did not wear body armor and 81 percent did not wear goggles. The high percentage of helmet use may be due to the mandatory helmet law in Michigan; however, the use of the half-shells may still be a concern.
Commercial Motor Vehicle Direct Observation Survey of Safety Belt Use
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Direct Observation Survey of Safety Belt Use was sponsored by the Office of Highway Safety Planning and was completed in 2006. This study reported the results of the commercial motor vehicle safety belt usage observational surveys. As a part of this statewide survey, 181 sites were surveyed including limited access highway sites and major signalized intersections. All commercial motor vehicle drivers and front-seat passengers were observed for safety belt use and non-use. Each observation was categorized by vehicle type, vehicle range, cargo type, fleet owner, gender, age and race of the driver. The weighted overall safety belt usage rate for drivers and passengers of commercial motor vehicles was found to be 73.9 percent. This usage rate is approximately 25.4 percent higher than the national average. Although the commercial motor vehicle safety belt usage rate continues to trail the passenger vehicle safety belt use rate, future targeted programs, similar to the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, should increase safety belt usage rates for commercial motor vehicle drivers and passengers.